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GODABARISH MOHAPATRA 





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The sculpture reproduced on ihe end paper depicts a scene where three 
soothsayers are inierpreiing to King Suddhodana the dream of Queen 
Ma>d, mother of Lord Buddha. Bclo^^ them is seated a scribe recording 
the inierpreiaiion. This is perhaps the earliest available pictorial record 
of the art of writing in India. 

From : Nagaijunakonda. 2nd certiiry A.D. 


Courtesy : National Museum. 



MAKERS OF INDIAN LITERATURE 


Godabarish Mohapatra 


Brundaban Chandra Acharya 



SAHITYA AKADEMI 



SAHITYA AKADEMI 

Rabindra Bhavan, 35 Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi 110 001 
Sales : Swati, Mandir Marg, New Delhi 1 10 001 
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Chennai 600 018 

172 Mumbai Marathi Grantha Sangrahalaya Marg, Dadar, 
Mumbai 400 014 

ADA Rangamandira, 109 J. C. Road, Bangalore 560 002 


©SahilyaAkademi 
ISBN 81-260-0217-4 


First Published 1997 


Price : Rs. 25 


Published by the Sahitya Akademi 
Typesettingby Shristi, 53/6B/1, Central Road, Calcutta 700 032 
Printed at M/s Mitra Press, 8 IB, Palaldanga Street, Calcutta 700 009 



V 


CONTENTS 

Life and Career 1 

Poetry 11 

Short Stories 18 

Novels 29 

Satires 35 

Excerpts from Godabarish’s Writings 45 






Life and Career 


Godabarish Mohapatra has occupied a unique place in Oriya 
literature. A writer of humour and satire, he was deeply concerned 
with the problems of his contemporary life. The present study of 
his writings includes his poetry, short stories, novels, humorous 
and satirical writings, belles-lettres, one-act plays, children’s 
literature as well as his journalistic pieces. To make a systematic 
estimate of his literary genious, some particular phases of his career 
are being touched upon in the following pages. 

HRST PHASE 11914- 1921) 

Bom on 1 October 1898 at Kumarang near Banapur in Orissa, 
Godabarish had read extensively ancient Oriya literature such as 
Gopibhasa, Gunasagara,KeshabaKoili,Natuchori, AngadapadU 
Kapata Pasha, etc. in his early years, before attending school. 
His quick and spontaneous versification charmed his teachers in 
the upper primary school where he was reading. A boy of eight or 
ten, he went to the paddy-fields with his brother at night, spent 
hours in gossip in the granary floor and easily composed short 
rhymed-verses on paddy-field granary and fire. The words of 
elderly people became poetry in his rendering. He once constructed 
a drain in the school orchard but later found the drain gone for 
which he composed a stanza with eyes suffused with tears ; ‘Ah 
my drain / They tortured you tiU death’. The emotion of the child 
for minor objects of little recognition and value made him compose 
innumerable poems like this in his school days. 

His fust poem ‘Banapur’ (1914) was awarded a prize in the 
Annual Day of M. E. School Students’ Union. Braja Sundar Das, 
the famous Editor of Mukiira, was the Chaimian at that function 
and published the poem in his journal. 

Composing poems was his hobby. He wrote poems such as 
‘Usha’, ‘Nirjhara’, ‘Pradosha’, ‘Shishira’, ‘Nitimalya’, 
‘Puspanjali’ in 1914 that are compiled in his book Je Phula 



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Godabarish Mohpalra 


Phutihila in 1966, But even earlier they were first compiled as 
Prabhala Kusuma in 1920, and printed m Mukura Press by Braja 
Sundar Das. 

Prabhala Kusuma was dedicated to his young teacher Pandit 
Godabarish Mishra. There hewrote. T offer this flower blossoming 
at the dawn of life, with devotion and love, in the hands of my 
esteemed young master Sri Godabarish Mishra, M. A. B. T., the 
bard and the worthy son of my motherland.’ OnPrabhata Kusuma, 
the then Headmaster of Cuttack Training School, Chandramohan 
Moharana, wrote on 16 November 1918 : T was too pleased to 
read the poetry anthology Prabhala Kusuma by Sri Godabarish 
Moh^atra. The language is charming and the thoughts generally 
impressive. This young poet would be adorned with a highposition 
among the poets if he retains his sincerity and devotion’ , 

Pandit Krupasindhu Mishra, the Headmaster of Satyabadi 
Banavidyalaya, in which Godabarish was a student, remarked on 
this book op 7 August 1919 : ‘Sri Godabarish Mohapatra is a 
student of Satyabadi School. 1 have discovered his poetic 
sensibility on several occasions. He is my student and is almost in 
the first stage of his life. It is seen in the field of literature that 
many young talents have failed to be successful satisfactorily in 
the later days of their lives. Hence it seems unsafe and unwise to 
remark about his future at present. Of couse, it requires no mention 
that his poetic genious is gradually developing through his 

writings The present booklet Prabhala Kusuma is surely up to 

mark. If something is there to learn from small poems, then 
Prabahta Kusuma is quite valuable. The language is as simple as 
his thoughts.’ 

Ratnakar Pati, Lecturer in Philosophy at Ravenshaw College, 
Cuttack, wrote his views on this book on 25 February 1919 : ‘I 
hope that the boQ\iPrabhataKusuma'fiQv\& find a deserving place 
in Oriya literature because there are some nice and profound 
thoughts in the book.. ..The poet is also the author of another book 
named Banapur aird its readers might have known about his literary 
talent’ . 



Life and Career 


3 


As Prabhata Kusuma and Banapur were written before 
Godabarish had joined Satyabadi Banavidyalaya, they were free 
from the literary ideals and styles of Satyabadi period. In these 
two poetic utterances, the influence of Radhanath Ray, the famous 
Oiiya Poet, could be seen. ‘Banapur’ shows the influence of 
Radhanath’s ‘Chilika’. The description of nature and its 
manifestations in mountains, caves, birds, dawn and dusk, the lake 
covered with dancing lotus and clouds perching on hills, remind 
Radhanath as far as language, rhyme and presentation are 
concerned. The influence ofRadhanath’s ‘Tulsi stabaka’ is evident 
in ‘Prabhata Ktisuma’, in connection with memorable moral 
teachings. 

The poems of Banapur were appreciated by many, including 
Pandit Godabarish who encouraged Mohapatra to join Satybadi 
as a student (1915 to 1921). Joining Banavidyalaya, he wrote the 
poem ‘Kabira gana‘. It received ^probation and was published 
in the school’s monthly magazine Satyabadi in 1916. The dashing 
of waves against the shore, the melodious tune of the cuckoo and 
the blossoming of lilies are some of the mysteries of nature that 
he wrote about in that poem. 

In 1916, another poem ‘Kie jinithila’ was composed with the 
symbolic presentation of a flower that had a venomous snake 
underneath ready to bite the man wanting to pluck the blossom. 

Mohapatra was influenced by Satyabadi trend and the literary 
ou^ut of that period like Dharmapada, Konaraka, Padmabatu 
Dharanidhar, Kdlijai, Mun Chasdpua, etc. Most of the poems 
collected in the book Je Phula Phulihila belonged to the period 
(1914 to 1921). His excellent poems charmed others to gain the 
title ‘adolescent poet’ for himself. 

Satyabadi Banavidyalaya was established by Pandit 
Gopabandhu to train students mentally to free India from the 
shackles of foreign rule. The teachers were quite affectionate to 
the pupils and imbibed in them the spirit of nationalism, patriotism, 
liberty and sacrifice. Mohapatra was deeply influenced by his 
saintly teachers. Pandit Godabarish gave him the biographies of 



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Godabarish Mohpatra 


Italian freedom fighters like Mazzini and Garibaldi which 
influenced Mohapatrato WTite the biography of Mazzini published 
in 1930. He also wrote the outlines of Rajput Kahani following 
the History of Rajasthan by Todd. In most of his poems during 
191 8 to 1 920, the ambition for freedom and liberty through selfless 
dedication of the youth dominated. He wrote a poem entitled 
‘Pathika rniin swarajya duare’, meaning ‘I am a pedestrian on the 
threshold of self-rule’. 

In 1920, in the aftermath of the World War, he wrote a poem 
named ‘Atmabali’ on an incident of self sacrifice which was 
published by the famou.s freedom fighter Govinda Chandra Mishra. 
The author referred to an incident of Russian-Japanese war where 
a Japanese old woman committed suicide to send her patriotic 
son to the war. 

After the publication of Satyahadi from Asha Press of 
Berhampur, another magazine Vani saw the light of day in 1919, 
and continued till 1921. While Godabarish was a student of classes 
X and XI, his poems and stories got published in the same 
magazine. 

‘Parimala’, published in Vani 'm 1919, was the first short story 
of Mohapatra that portrayed in a passionate and gripping manner 
the tragic life of a virile youth. An essay named ‘Bharatara birabala 
Sanjukta’ meaning Sanjukta, the heroic lady of India, wa.s also 
published in that magazine. Stories like ‘Milani’ and ‘Bhai’ were 
also published in the magazine in 1920. So too poems like ‘Bidaya 
bele’, 'Barsha sheshe’, ‘Abakisha shesha dibase’ etc. 

The natural surrounding of Banavidyalaya enchanted the tender 
heart of the young poet. He composed poems and songs for the 
functions ofthe school. Poems like ‘Gaiieshagidka’, ‘Sankirttana' 
as well as ‘Chhande chhande’, 'Kunje kunje’, ‘Abartara devi’, 
‘Bani vandana' etc. were written in Sanskrit metre and style on 
the occasions like the worship of deities like Ganesh, Saraswati, 
Siva and Krushna. 

He plunged into the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1 92 1 , when 
Banavidyalaya got affected by the prevailing situations. 



Life and Career 


5 


SECOND PHASE (1922 - 1938) 

This was a time of tension and conflict for the growth of 
Mohapatra’s genius, but unlike an ordinary man he faced it with 
confidence and courage. 

He was connected with Sainaj and Lokanukha (1922), both 
printed under the editorship of Godabarish Mishra. Many of his 
stories and poems were published in Mukura. Stories like 
‘Meladiha’, ‘Prayaschita’, ‘Bidhabara niswasa’, ‘Panditanka 
siddhilabha’, ‘Dhukhini duare bhikari’, ‘Mun chora nuhen’, 
‘Bhagnahrudaya’, ‘Duiti tanka’, ‘Sraddha byabastha’, ‘Patitara 
pua’ etc., portray Orissan rural life. Easy, simple and 
conversational in language they bear the sympathy and sense of 
humanity of the author. 

His stories like ‘Matira mayi’, ‘Tirtha yatra’, ‘Garibara 
bhagabana’, ‘Garibara sansara’, ‘Asundara prema’, ‘Premara 
pratihunsa’, etc., indicate the influence of ToLstoy on the writer 
a.s far as the plots are concerned. Even his original stories are 
influenced by the narrative technique and style of Tolstoy. 

He became the editor of Puvibasi in 1923 but it stopped due to 
economic crisis. Returning to Banapur, he started composing 
patriotic verses. He went from village to village to spread 
nationalism and the message of national movement. In 1924, 
Pandit Godabarish met him and asked him to get his stories 
published in books so that he could get some money. He gave him 
a Bengali book too for translation into Oriya. The first one to be 
printed was Kaiha Kahdni in that year, and the translation of the 
second one, i.e., the Bhakliyoga of Aswini Kumar Dutta was 
published in 1930-31. 

Following the ideal of Pandit Godabarish, Mohapatra did not 
seek any government sendee and preferred to lead an independent 
life. He concentrated on writing novels besides stories and poems. 
As a result, in 1925, his novel Rajadwhi saw the light of the day. 
Subsequently, Pandit Godabarish himself wrote novels like 
Ahhagini^ Ghatdntara, 181 7 etc. 

Due to the paucity of Oriya novels, Balakrishna Kar launched 



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Oodabarish Mohpatra 


a scheme named ‘Ananda Lahari Upanyasa Mala’, to publish new 
novels. The novels ofMohapatra like (1932), fiaJtA'ra 
Maya ( 1 93 6 ), 5/rfl Yubaka (1936) znABidmha (1938) were written 
under the inspiration of Balakrishana Kar. Most of his 
revolutionary poems were also published in the magazine 
Sahakara of which he was a regular writer. Some poetry 
anthologies namely Ruparekha (1935), Chithi and LJtsaJaya were 
also published during this period. He wrote Raktapata (1936-37) 
in imitation of Mary Coreli’s Vendetta. 

He was an efficient social worker. He worked under the 
leadership of Pandit Gopabandhu at the time of terrible flood in 
1 926-27 in the districts of Cuttack and Puri. It gave him a chance 
to make friendship with another outstanding worker, Jadumani 
Mangaraj. The patriotism and personality of Gopabandhu, made 
him write stories like ‘Ebe madyabanchichhi’(1935), ‘Bikhyata 
katakaru Akhyatapalli’, and many others. The death of 
Gopabandhu in 1928 deeply touched his heart, which found 
expression in many of his writings. 

Pandit Godabarish established a High School at Banapur in 
1930. Mohapatra was the first Secretary of the Managing 
Committee as well as a teacher at the beginning of the school and 
taught a number of subjects for want of teachers. At that time, 
Banaphula, a literary magazine, w'as published under his editorship 
from Banapur. 

He was engaged in the spread of Oriya language, literature 
and culture in Midnapur area in 1931. His ‘Utha Kanakala’ 
received great acclaim from many people including Bhagabata 
Chandra Das, an Oriya in Midnapur, who wrote the book 
Barttaman Samajer Ifihrulla in Bengali. Next year the poem was 
publi.shed in Sahakara with the title ‘Smasina pujarira ahwana’. 

For his interest in journalism, he Joined the &d\\yAsha as Sub- 
Editor in 1928, edit^ by Sasibhusan Ratha. When Asha was 
discontinued in 1930, he Joined the Editorial Board of Samaj. 
Then he was associated with Balakrishan Kar in the field of 
journalism. He became the Managing Ed\ioxoflJikalaHi(eishini, 



Life ana Career 


7 


published from Berhampur and patronised by the king of Parala. 

Most of his creative writings were published in Mukura of 
BrajasundarDas, Sahakara ofBalakrishna Kzt a.ndNababharata 
of Pandit Nilakantha during the period under discussion. Pandit 
Nilakantha used to pay Mohapatra an amount of ten rupees for 
each story at that time. Acharya Harihar wrote once to Godabarish 
about an incident that happened in their village Ramachandrapur. 
The episode was turned into a story named ‘Bratabhikhya’. This 
story was published mMabaharata^nd later included in the story- 
book Ehe Madhya Banchichhi. 

The poems, stories and novels of this period express the 
sentiments of revolution and radicalism of his creative life. The 
social background of sorrow and poverty has been presented in a 
lively way. The author’s sense of humanity and sympathy became 
the source of appreciation and interest for the readers. 

TltirU) PHASE (1938-47) 

A new chapter began in the life of Godabarish with the publication 
of the humorous and satirical weekly magazine Niankhunla, the 
only of its type in Orissa, from 12 March 1938. Mohapatra became 
the editor, writer and publisher of this famous magazine and 
continued as such throughout his life. The news-items were flashed 
in the form of poems, stories, belles-lettres and humorous 
discourses which made him extremely popular. He published it 
from Sarada Press and was so deeply attached to it that even he 
tried to sell it moving from door to door. At the time of financial 
instability which was obvious and inevitable, he was helped by 
some of his friends. Many also avoided him, 

Since 1936 he had selected Berhampur to be his field of 
acti3’itics being related to Utlkal Hiieishini. Before Niankhunla 
wa.s published he had fomied a Vagabond Association. In 1937 
he suggested to his friends about the publication of Niankhuma, 
which was materialised by the zeal of his comrades. The 
association dissolved but the magazine continued to be published, 
and slowly became an institution in Orissa. 



8 


Godabarish Mohpatra 


During the second world war the publication of Niankhunta 
was disturbed for tw'O years because of its transfer from Berhampur 
to Cuttack and shortage of paper. The following were some of its 
aims and objectives : 

1 . To check the whimsical and arbitrai 7 rules of the party in 
power, by highlighting public opinion necessary for 
democracy. 

2. To imbibe the spirit of restraint and discipline in the minds 
of the people. 

3. To fight again.st injustice and corruption in the spheres of 
social, political and administrative affairs. 

4. To arouse consciousness of the common mass for just and 
impartial administration and to ascertain social and 
political justice to the people. 

5. To .stimulate the sense of dignity and self-confidence in 
the people. 

6. To encourage the Oriyas to establish their identity in the 
national level. 

Mohapatra himself wrote the following regarding the success 
of the magazine: '...Niankhunta is not blown out in spite of so 
many stomis and tempests in the past twenty-five years. Rather it 
ha.s been enlightening more and more. As an effect of this light 
and by this sacrificial fire many power-blinded birds, corrupt 
insects, and selfish sinners have been burnt and destroyed. 
Niankhunta is the torch to guide the mass in this darkness. It is 
neither backed by the electricity of money making motivated 
advertisement of the Government or the Party in power nor by the 
fuel of anti-.social elements having vested intere.sts. The great souks, 
whose encouragement gave birth to Niankhunta. are almost gone. 
The history of this magazine is a history of terrible struggle since 
its beginning. The principle of Niankhunta is the principle of this 
nation, its civilisation and culture. It fares forward on its own 
track and will continue to do so. Its sermon is: 



Life an^i Cdrcer 


9 


Nincjantu Niti nipuiia jadi ba stubantu, 

Laxmi samabishatu gachhaca ba jathestam, 

Adaibanie maranamastu yagantare ba 
Nyayat patha prabichalanti padam nadhirah. 

That means, this magazine is impcnnous to the appreciation 
or depreciation of wise people, the entrance or exit of Laxmi, and 
the death coming today or tomorrow. But it is a must to follow the 
just and right path.' (ManA'AunmlBrdyear, 5th No., March 1963, 
P2) 

On its 26th anniversary he again wrote : ‘The future critics 
will evaluate the role of this magazine as the mirror of national 
life and character. ...This nation of Oriyas is yetunable to have its 
own identity in the national level. To enable it in that respect 
Niankhunla marches ahead with the flame of light It has never 
lost its route to attain the target though surrounded by storms, 
tempests, thunders and lightnings.. prays to God ; 
Saive bhavantu sukhinah sarve santu niramayah, 
sarve bhadrani pasyantu, ma kaschit duhkha bhavet 
Om shantih, shantih, shantih.’ 

( Niankhimta. 24th year, 1st No., November 1936, p 2 ). 

From the litcraiy point of view, the role of Niankhimta was 
ittunensc. The poems, stories, belles-lettres, and one-act plays of 
Mohapatra were published in this magazine. Humour and satire 
are intenningled in his stv'le of writing to have a special position 
in Oriya literature. But there is no fundamental change in his 
attitude as a thoughtful and ardent personality of literature. The 
tradition of Oriya literature continued to be forceful in him. The 
complicated thoughts and arrogance of the modem human life 
arc clearly, elaborately and fcarlc.ssly articulated in his writings. 

rOl'RTU PH ASF ll')4'- toi 

The artistic succc.s.s of Mohapatra's writing.^ wa.s nemendous. He 
expressed the past glory, the present anxieties and the possibility 
of a bright future for thi.s nation in his grand manner. Some of his 
writings were compiled in stories and poetry anthologies after 



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Godabarish Mohpatra 


Independe nee. Those are, Galpa Nuhen ( 1 95 1 ), //e Mora Kalama 
(1951), Hmdishalara Biplaba (1952), Kanta 0 Phula (1958), 
Nila Mdslaram (1958), Pahdeha Talara Ghasa (1958), Utha 
Kankala (1961), Banka O Sidha ( 1 964), Snili Samchayana ( 1965). 
But even then, almost four times of the collected articles have not 
been compiled in books. He started editing a magazine forchildem 
named Tuan Tuin{\9Sl). Some of his charming poems and stories 
published in this magazine have been compiled in Mo Khelasathi 
( 1 958), Kiinira Hati { 1 959), Ki Ka(ha(l 961 ) ondDesha Bideshara 
LJpakatha (1962). 

In this phase, he was rewarded as well as condemned. He was 
severely assaulted on the highway, his granary was burnt to ashes 
in his village, and many defamation cases were filed against him. 
But the agonies increased the sharpness and might of his pen. His 
two poetry anthologies, i.e., Kanta O Phula and Utha Kankala 
got Orissa Sahitya Akadenii Award in 1959 and 1962 respectively. 
Though he had to face many experiences of pain and pleasure, 
mirth and misery, it was his remarkable strength of character that 
he made move beyond these' earthly tensions to have the poetic 
world of peace, tranquility and confidence. 

He died on 25 November 1965. After one year of his death, 
his poetry anthology got central Sahitya Akademi 

Award. A sentence from the book comes to mind in this context : 
Mithyara abarana satya age 
pare nahin rakhi kebe bhulai ane, 
niunku ke rakhipare ghodaikari 
phuti uthc vatyata dine na dine 

This meams that truth cannot be concealed by the cover of 
falsehood for c\ cr as fire cannot be kept hidden. It must come out 
one da_\. 


e 



e 


Poetry 

He composed poems, read them before friends and then submitted 
them for publication, The mother of poetic art provides inspiration 
for the creation of aesthetic beauty and pleasure. Lack of it makes 
poetry rmpoetic, he believed, and pointed out how an experienced 
poetic self expresses its feelings, visions and thoughts always 
through befitting language. 

Word and meaning, feeling and language are intricately related 
in the poems of Godabarish. It is impossible to change a word 
without damaging the expression and subj ect-matter of his poems. 
For him, there was no difference between the content and the 
form. One is the inner object and the other is its manifestation. 

The individuality of the poet is prominent in his poems. The 
expression of despondency or gaiety is never direct, rather 
suggestive and symbolic. The context and presentation are blended 
in his poems, which create immense interest for the readers. 

Mohapatra never hankered after lame and prestige. This was 
the impact of Satyabadi Banavidyalayaon his sensibility. His aim 
was to entertain and edify, and he almost always had a social 
purpose, and he made his language a fit instrument for the purpose. 

Godabarish often used the language of day to day life in his 
poetry. His mind was quite receptive and heart sensitive to his 
surrounding and to various events in the society. The actualities 
of life were formulated by the poet in a simple, lucid and charming 
style. 

Especially confrontation with the gross, mundane and earthly 
was a part of his strength. The strange experiences, conflicts, 
shocks and feelings, etc., enriched his poems, and almost always 
acted like touchstones that changed and transformed his poetry 
into something rich and strong. That is why Pandit Nilakantha 
Das, his teacher, wrote that his poetry was as ‘sprightly’ and ‘alive’ 
as he himself was. 

Godabarish’s long creative period, beginning from the second 



12 


GodabaHwSh Mohpatra 


decade till the end of the sixth decade, for about 50 years, was 
also a time of great strain for India. Indian life — socially, 
politically and otherwise — went through momentous changes, 
more particularly, that was also the period when tastes continuously 
changed, and new and newer ideologies tended to dominate the 
literary scene. Godabarish began his career as a student of 
Satyabadi Banavidyalaya with such singular personalities as Pandit 
Gopabandhu, PanditNilakanthaand Pandit Godabarish, and their 
ideas and ideals found their way in his consciousness throughout 
his life and became the guiding principles that shaped his spirit. 
When the socio-political ideals and purposes of Satyabadi 
literature was substituted by the passion and imagination of the 
Romantics and the stridentsocial commitments of the Progressives 
in the twenties, thirties and forties, he kept off all of them. He 
kept his literary ideals and inspiration sharp and pointed, always 
in the service of goodness and beauty to be understood and 
acquired in the midst of deceit, wilfulness and hypocrisy. 

The emergence of Godabarish Mohapatra as a poet was 
occasioned by the harmony of two trends, i.e., Radhanath and 
Madhusudan on the one hand, and Gopabandhu and Godabarish 
Mishra on the other. In the poems of Mohapatra, the influences of 
these fourpoets are traceable in the thematic, stylistic and linguistic 
aspects. But his poetic determination amid firmness of purpose 
belonged to his own personality, 

From his adolescence, the poet was a visionary. He found 
fountain of tears in the torrents of rainfall. Sometimes the rain 
drops speared like the drops of honey and the sign of sweet love 
of a beautiful bride. The ever green flora on the river banks 
symbolised the winsome smile of someone unknown. The music 
of the distant horizon, the song of the colourful valley, and the 
melodies of the seasons enraptured him and moved his heart to 
realise the truth of cosmic life. With that spiritual fervour in him, 
he became conscious of Indian freedom and gave a call to the 
people to fight for it The cosmic sound ‘OM’ was the invoking 
hymn for the saints to start something new and divine, which 



Poetry' 


13 


touched the innermost chord of the poet. This call of spiritual 
upliftment and wilfulness was turned into a political call for 
patriotism, liberty and self-rule by self-sacrifice and service to 
the motherland. He wrote ‘Utha Kankala’ (Rise, 0 Skeleton) to 
encourage the slumbering Indians imbibing self-consciousness and 
social responsibility in them. He never thought of the individual 
happiness and comfort. He took the role of a revolutionary leader 
to lead the mankind towards salvation and freedom. Pandit 
Gopabandhu Das, the great savant, shaped his mind and spirit 
Godabarish remained devoted to him throughout his life. 

In the poem ‘Utha Kankala’ the poet has compared modem 
Orissa with a graveyard and the people with skeletons. But the 
graveyard is not to be despised. Rather it is suggestive of a new 
beginning. The poet takes the role of a conjurer, a Tantrik, with 
supernatural magic powers. In the poetry of Mohapatra, the 
feelings of patriotism, nationalism and liberty become the focus 
of attention that enlightened and purified the minds of the people. 

The youthful spirit remained with the poet till his death. It was 
tempestuous and uncontrollable. Besides, Godabarish was a poet 
of suffering humanity. He thought it wise to bathe in the tears of 
sorrow-stricken human beings without trying to escape. He felt 
that God lived not in the church or temple or mosque, but in the 
hearts of men and in their smiles and sighs. He invited people to 
worship mankind as service to man is service to God. In his poem 
‘He mora kalama’ (Oh, my pen) he points out that the pen has 
imthinkable potentiality to bring a sea-change in the lives of people. 
He was intolerant of neporism, partiality, love of power, selfishness 
and indifference at the higher echelons of society. In his poems 
the cmel politics and the wrong principle.s of administration were 
often condemned. He had the ability to mix politics with literature 
by an actual assessment of political revolution and social 
movements. Such poems were ‘Chati’, 'Shaguni’, ‘Pecha’, ‘Boka’, 
‘Daleighai’, ‘Tanka’ etc. The sleeper (Chad) is the symbol of 
undeveloped adivasis who are often exploited by others. Vulture 
(Shaguna) is the symbolic representation of the corrupt political 



14 


Godabarish Mohpatra 


leader; and road (Rasta) is not merely a curved roadway with 
ups and downs, it witnesses rise and fall in the lives of the nation 
being trod both by the victors and the star\'mg people. Similarly 
‘■Khajurigachha’, i.e., date palm, symbolises the crudity of 
administration, and ‘Darapoda bidi’ (Half burnt bidi) is compared 
to the defected ex-ministers lying uimoticed and useless at the 
roadside. The poem ‘Abasara’ i.e. retirement, says that after the 
power is gone, ex-ministers are hated and condemned by the people 
because of their past arrogance and whimsical rule. 

The blending of satire and humour is found in the poems like, 
‘Garibaradurgastaba’, ‘Banyanchalaranimantrana’, ‘Daleighai’, 
etc., where the poetportrays apathetic picture of the poetic object 
to make the readers serious and thoughtful. 

Godabarish is one of the outstanding humanists in Oriya 
literature of the twentieth century. The Oriya prostitutes of Calcutta 
donated for the flood relief in Orissa in 1955, though they were 
hated and abused as wanton libertines. They had hearts for Orissa, 
their motherland. The poet compared their tear drops with the 
ocean of humanitarian love and affection. 

His tender feelings were not only limited to human beings but 
also extended to birds and beasts. He was shocked at the sight of 
goats and cocks left in Kalijayee temple as sacrifice. The poet 
composed poems showing the appeal of such animals in a very 
satirical way arousing pathos and sympathy. The beasts are more 
human than human beings. He composed verses on goats, peacocks 
and pregnant deer professing human sympathy for them. 

The poet was fond of recapitulating past incidents. Progress 
seems possible with the aid of the memories of a rich past, he 
thought. Such an incident occurred in 1 955, at the time of a 
Sarvodaya fair at Puri. Cart-loads of surplus rice, dal and food 
items were buried in the gound on the one hand, on tlie other an 
unknown man died at the side of the road of whom no one bo thered. 
He wrote a poem named ‘Ajana nagarika’ (Unknown citizen) that 
depicts innocent neglected villagers. 

As far as forms of poems are concerned, Godabarish wrote in 



Poetry 


15 


many a form such as narrative, elegy, sonnet, ballad, and satires 
etc. and in each form he excelled and touched the hearts of the 
readers. But primarily he was a lyricist, and there was a fine 
blending of musical elements in his poetry. The auditory sense of 
his readers is fully satisfied by his versification that has fine sound 
effects and metrically graceful movements. The musicality of the 
poems can be easily found out when words like ‘Bhanja’, ‘Kanja’, 
‘Samgita’, ‘Punjita’, ‘Siunila’, ‘Asm’, ‘Kunja’, ‘Kunjargati’, etc., 
are used in his poems in a successive as well as meaningful manner. 
Very often, the poet took recourse to conversational and spoken 
style as in ‘Bajekatha’ (Meaningless words) and ‘Bata kete’ ( How 
far?). Accuracy of words in the proper context is one of his special 
characteristics. 

He never tried to avoid miscellaneous objects around him. 
Reading his writings the reader feels in his mind the pathetic scene 
of a crowd standing in front of a shop to purchase rice, or the 
complacent speech of a person sitting comfortably on a seat in the 
bus to a person standing very painfully in that vehicle. The realistic 
portrait of daily experiences of common men were poetically 
presented to the readers. Tmth and reality are intricately associated 
in his poetic imagination. 

In fact Godabarish never told anything other than the trath. 
His poeitc heart was much attracted towards that. He tried to 
expose guilt and falsehood so thatpoeple may leam the greamess 
of truth and honesty. In his poems, the national, social and moral 
realities of the then Orissa were painted in a charming and realistic 
way. The inequalities of life and the racial discrimination or the 
caste feelings were to be challenged and uprooted, he professed. 
The poems like ‘Jagadasakahe’ and ‘Parbata’ are two such 
examples. 

Transformation of this earth into heaven was what he wanted. 
But he was never away from the contemporary anxieties, problems, 
dissatisfaction and wants. Rather the sense of dis.satisfaction would 
encourage the people for progress and development, he thought. 
Necessity is the mother of invention, and as such the nature of his 



16 


Godabansh Mohpalm 


poetry was fundamentally satirical as far as the expression of 
modem mind was concerned. The poet regarded the modem 
civilisation to be a civilisation of posters. People are deceived by 
the colourful posters without being aware of the contamination of 
morality, dignity, self-re.spect and self-confidence in the posters. 
It is time they should not be deceived by the appearences. 
Remembering the rich past, they should always try to go beyond, 
into a bliss of mind and spirit. 

He wrote a number of poems like ‘Punmachhata’, ‘Chhinda 
daudi’ on rebirth, tiansmigiation and indestructibility of soul, being 
influenced by the philosophy of ancient India. He has temied the 
present way of family planning and abortion to the degradation of 
Indian culture. To check population, he preferred celibacy to the 
operation or other medical measures. The poems like ‘Shakuntala’, 
‘Paribaraniyantrita janani’, ‘Garbhapata’, ‘Kidebi naam’, and 
‘ Ajnata pita’ bear the message of the poet against the Government 
measures to plan the fantilies. 

His pen was always conscious and active to guide the Oriyas, 
to right course of thought and action without being lost in the 
zigzag and winding ways of selfishness and hypocrisy. To be 
modem is not to be Westernised. Rather modernity comes when 
the past is studied and applied to achieve one’s end in future. 
Godabarish had this sense of modernity. 

The poet sang the glory of struggle, dissatisfaction, conflict 
and tension as they enriched and activated one’s own life. Facing 
the hard realities of one’s existence would make a person self- 
confident and courageous. But heroic struggle for existence has a 
particular limitation for an individual, because he ha.s to get rid of 
that snuggle and recline in the lap of eternal peace, pemianent 
truth and long cherished salvation. This life as well as the life 
after was the focus of attention for Godabarish, a man of oriental 
mysticism. 

The poet was bitingly satirical in his wi it ngs. but it would be 
a mistake to remark that he lacked love and .il ‘ eeiion for mankind. 
His heart was really an ocean of huimi i n \dness, love and 



Poetry 


17 


sympathy for common poeple. His aim was not to hurt somebody’s 
sentiment for nothing, rather he attempted to arouse human virtues 
in the hearts of his so-called victims. 

He was a poet of passion who could probe into the inner-most 
nature of human beings by hLs wisdom and poetic insight. His 
poetic vision was divided into two parts, one gave rise to the 
feelings of mind, brain, conscience and the other was an Absolute 
Vision which was not influenced by impressions or subjectivism. 
His poetic temperament — dynainic and sensitive — was in quest 
of knowledge. In his poems we find various allusions from 
mythology and history, sympathy for the dowm-trodden and 
suffering mankind, inspiration for revolutionary steps, and above 
all expression of a strong sensibility through humour and satire. 
He loved individualism, liberty and freedom but he had to suffer 
the agonies of loneliness also. On the one hand he is a staunch 
devotee of common people thinking of them as real incarnation 
of God and on the other a worried and restless rebel aginst the 
degradation in the field of social life, administration and culture. 
His poems make one agitated and revolutionary, but also tend 
him to search for the peaceful bliss in human life. 

We present in the appendix a few of his poems in English 
translation. 


& 



Short Stories 


As a literary fonn Short Story in Oriya literature emerged in 1 898 
when the social life of Orissa was in a plight That sense of injury 
gave brith to the stories of Fakir Mohan who wrote them out in 
the later phase of his life, in the first decade of the century. His 
lead was taken up by many other ^ory-tellers till we come to 
Godabarish, whose stories provided a powerful expression of the 
prevailing social ills. Like Tolstoy he strove for truth, love and 
spiritual elevation so as to make a man a human being. His 
characters like Maguni, Benudhara, Pattanaik, Sahadev, Hari Suar, 
Dandia Bou, Haricharan etc. were great creations. To see 
Godabarish is to observe the rural Orissa representing the common 
people. His stories recorded the history of sighs and tears of daily 
labourers, wage-earners, peasants and poor poeple. He was an 
artist of human emotions who could transform the finite into 
infinite by the magical strokes of his pen. 

Godabarish had the capacity to inform the readers about the 
main points of his stories from the beginning. For example the 
starting of the story ‘MuhurtakaraDekha’ (Meeting for a moment) 
is like this ; 

Meeting for once; that too for a moment! That day was a 
time of scorching rays as if fire rained from the sky. The 
pleasant earth was screaming with her dry and sterile 
bosom lying bare. In that tranquil and lonely moment, I 
met her for a moment only. 

The story ‘Pattanikepaisatie’ (A farthing, Mr. Pattnaik) begias; 
No .sooner had the bus stopped at Asika bu-s stand, than a 
voice was heard, ‘A farthing Mr. Pattnaik, please’. There 
was an endless hurly and burly to the uttermost bitterness 
of the mind. A sudden change took place when the bus 
stopped on the dusty highway. In the place of that dry 
rough noise, a shrill and soft voice of pathos was heard — 
‘A farthing, Mr. Pattnaik I Please’. 



Short Stories 


19 


In some stories the writer has made the characters to narrate 
the whole story. Some sentences from his story ‘PremaraPhasala’ 
(The harvest of love) may be quoted: 

Afterwords I thought so for many days. Would the hills 
speak? Would the trees sing? Would the old rocks dance? 
Pondering over such thoughts, I sat on the boundary ridge 
of the green paddyfields of hilly Narasinghpur. I observed 
many things sitting there, but never heard anything from 
anybody. In one evening, when the sun was hiding itself 
behind that distant Manibhadra hill, like a mass of gold, 
the sound of footstep could be heard. Surprised, I looked 
up. Someone asked ‘Do we stay some steps behind ?’ He 
who asked was a young man. The other person was a 
young lady. The lady answered ‘Yes’. 

The frequent use of dialogues is another characteristic feature 
of his stories. An instance from ‘Ebe madhya banchichhi’ can be 
cited: 

The touch of hot waves or the pathetic cool of the day 
could not make Benudhar move. Benudhar was standing 
beneath the tree since morning without asking anything 
from anybody, just like the dumb tree. 

A question was asked : 

‘Hallo! boy ! your village ?‘ 

Benudhar raised his head and looked up. He looked as if 
like a statue — quiet and dumb. 

Again he was asked ; 

‘Where is your village, poor ch^ ? Have you got rice?’ 
Benudhar looked on. 

The man asking questions came nearer. A touch of cool, 
soft hand, was felt on hi^ back. That touch seemed to 
penetrate into his heart the outer coverings fike 

shirt, skin, flesh, bone and morrow.The body had a 
peculiar sensation. The eyelicte quivered, tears gathered 
From the eyes two drops f^l on the grouwcL He tried to 
say something. 



20 


Godabarish Mohpatra 


That man again asked ; 

‘Have you got rice, my boy ? ’ 

‘No’ he said. 

‘Would you like to have some T 

‘No, 1 have not come to eat rice’. 

‘Then why...?’ 

Benudhar could not tolerate any more. He cried aloud. 

Replied, ‘I heard under this tree and under tho.se feet — 

“Never beg. Let us be human, and let us live like men." 

Benudhar prostrated himself before his feet. 

The dialogues are short, precise and meaningful. His stories 
are full of incidents and problems. Plots are more emphatically 
treated than other literary devices. 

He painted the colourful moments of events and psycho logical 
or behavioural problems. He never gave allowance to sub-plots 
and enforced associations between events or persons to make the 
stories interesting. On the other hand he focused on the main plots, 
main characteia and the main narrative techniques. 

Once Stevenson said about the style in short stories; ‘There 
are, so far I know, three ways only of writing a short story. You 
may take a plot and fit characters to it or you may take a character 
and choose incidents and situations to develop it or lastly, you 
may take a certain atmosphere and get actions and persons to 
realise it.’ 

Godabarish followed all the three techniques in writing stories. 
The first technique was adopted in stories like ‘Munda sahada’, 
‘Jal tanka’, ‘Premara phasala’. The second was used in ‘Ebe 
madhyabanchichhi’, 'Maguni ofMagunirasagada’. The last one 
can be found in the stories like, ‘Mobile court’, ‘Paftanaike 
paisatie’, 'Sidha salakhe Bhubaneswar’, ‘Orissara atma’. 

He never took recourse to irrelevant and meaningless words 
to make the narrative long and monotonous. Every word was 
essential, irreplaceable and unavoidable. Nothing was extraneous 
or superfluous. The consequences of his stories are always 
suggestive. The ends of the episodes provide greater delight to 



Short Stories 


21 


the readers. Again the stories were the examples of excellent 
psychological insight for which they touched the hearts of the 
readers. The characterisation was also superb and natural. The 
spontaneous delineation of characters made them lively, down-to- 
earth and impressive. 

He created his own world in the short stories with his own 
laws and codes of conduct for the characters. The way of life of 
the readers was automatically presented in the flow of the writer’s 
narrative style. He himself wrote in the preface of ‘Sruti 
samchayana’ : ‘Whether there is the delight of literature or not, 
the rules of grammar are followed or not, characters are emphasised 
with adequate proportion or not, philosophy of life is expr^sed 
conectly and in proper place or not, I have not written stories 
having been concerned with all these things.’ 

He described multiple plots, many characters and several 
actions in the scope of a short story without making it clumsy. 
The dictum that one event or one moment of one’s life, should be 
the focus of attention in short story was not always followed by 
him. The stories like ‘Ebe madhyabanchichhi’, ‘Magunirasagada’, 
‘Unmochana’, ‘Hari Suarara Gandhi topi’, include suspense of 
events. His stories are compressed but universal, small in volume 
but great in value. 

Godabarish started writing stories at the time of the first World 
War, and continued till Independence and beyond. His stories can 
be mainly grouped as follows : 

1 . Psychological : The psychic manifestations of men and women 
in the midst of various situations, events and contexts. 

2. Social ; The reflections of Oriya society with its way of life, 
conventions and rituals. The writer also often treats at the 
reformation that may be brought about in the society. 

3. Domestic : The disintegration of family life and the reality of a 
process of decay. 

4. Political : The political consciousness dependent on 
contemporary political situations, 

5. Historical : The concern with the rich past 



22 


Godabarish Mohpatra 


6. Cultural : The cultural heritage is channingly presented in stories 
such as, ‘Brata bhikhya’, ‘Ebe madhya banchichhi’, ‘Munda 
sahada’, etc. 

7. Humorous : Most of the stories aim at creating humour and 
laughter with a satirical motivation. Stories like ‘Patranka 
smaranashakti’, ‘Khadada baking’, ‘Stop booking’, "Manisha 
chheli’, ‘Tera’, ‘Byakaraiia prathama’, etc, are some such 
examples. 

This grouping is not absolute because in his stories three-four 
elements often blend to provide the desired effect. Below is a 
brief discussion of some of his more important stories. 

The story ‘Ebe madhya banchichhi’ gives a vivid picmre of a 
famine in the village Sirei. People gathered in the relief centre. 
The living human beings oscillated between the extreme poles of 
life and death. They experienced death in course of living their 
lives. All groaned and screamed, and all rich ones had become 
beggars. Benudhar, the protagonist, was poor, helpless and 
miserabale. He tried many times to go to the Relief Centre but 
hesitated to go in such a gathering. When all the family members 
ofBenudharhadnothing but to starve, he finally went to the certre 
for help. But he was tom between two forces — the starvation of 
his family and his education, self respect on the other. He had 
learnt in the Banavidyalaya to live like human beings, but now he 
had come to beg. He went to a secluded place and sat beneatli a 
tree, where Gopabandhu was astonished to find such an Oriya 
who hesitated to beg in spite of intolerable starvation and acute 
poverty. He uttered spontaneously that ‘this nation is yet alive’. 
One’s self respect cannot be sold for a handful of rice, Benudhar 
thought. 

In the story ‘Manisha-ku patharakala kie’ (Who has petrified 
the man into a stone?) the main chaiucter is Bhima Das, the stone 
cutter, who prefers to be a cutter of stones without being responsive 
to the help and invitation of the king of a luxurious life. He has 
sacrificed his life and blood to build cities and palaces but has 
never been able to enjoy a life of merriment and leisure. He himself 



Short Slari(?s 


23 


has become a stone due to his long association with stones and 
rocks. 

The story ‘E janmara tirthakhutra’ describes the behaviour of 
Aintha, who joined a team praying to God but realised that real 
pilgrimage was cultivation of the fertile green lands. In the story 
‘Bikhayata katakaru akhyatapalli’ the intention of the writer is to 
invite the educated poeple from towns to villages. The story ‘Brata 
bhikhya' is an example of our culture of humanitarian 
understanding and sacrifice. In spite of several storms and hazards, 
this nation has not lost the priceless attributes of human beings 
such as love, sympathy and kindness. 

The story ‘Munda sahada’ narrates the story of Ganga, a forlorn 
and dejected lover, who tried to marry Champa but failed as she 
committed suicide under a Sahada tree. Hence he always went to 
that tree and regarded it to be his Champa . The description of the 
emotional restlessness is quite powerful and heart touching. A 
love story named ‘Premara simhasana’ deals with the separation 
of two lovers, Gati and Pata, both belonging to untouchables. Gati 
went to Rangoon to earn money for their marriage but when he 
returned he found Pata married to someone else. As a result, he 
became mad and his dead body was found in his house with golden 
ornaments on his chest. He was uneducated and untouchable, but 
his heart was human, enlightened and passionate. He was a true 
human being with a sensitive soul. 

The story ‘Swapna’ (Dream) describes the marriage of a 
wealthy aristocrat to a beggar maid. She was dreaming of gold 
and thought that whatever he touched turned into gold. Her golden 
dream was materialised after her marriage with that moneyed man. 

In the story ‘Jarira daka' the writer has glorified humanity. 
The narrow outlook ofcasteism cannotprofane it. ‘Muhuratakaia 
dekha’ is a story in the tme sense of the temi which is an apotheosis 
of human virtues. The writer is much more concerned with the 
anxieties of cotrmion man and has really read the hearts of the 
blind, lame, diseased, delinquents and beggars. A moment’s deep 
insight into somebody’s heart ramains in mind for ever. A beggar 



24 


Godabarish Mohpatra 


wants money, but he values affectionate dealings more. 

The writer has deified a man who spent all his energy for the 
pleasure and peace of others. The poor are the true incarnation of 
God. Pratap is a poor fellow in the story ‘Debatarabidhana’. The 
village leader decided to build a temple on his piece of land. 
Pratap ’s five sons and two daughters worked hard to build the 
temple and atlast breathed their last. The temple was constructed 
and Pratap made a statue of God. He became blind and his tears 
rolled down to listen to sound of the drum, music of flutes and 
wind instruments. One night, Pratap entered into that temple and 
brought the God to his cottage to imprison Him there. 

The plight of Oriyas working in Rangoon, Calcutta, etc., casued 
continuous pain on the sensitive heart of the writer. People go to 
such places leaving their native villages for earning money, but 
returning, they find their worlds upside down. Near and dear ones 
are never found in the same condition to welcome them. A son 
finds his ailing and dying mother in the story ‘Duity dina’, a 
husband finds his wife waiting after selling all her ornaments in 
‘Mun Rangunni pherili’. The story ‘Duiti ratrira shesha prahara’ 
also describes the pitiable condition of Oriya workers returning 
fi'om Rangoon. 

One of the best stories ofGodabarishMohapatrais ‘Magunira 
shagada’. Maguni was a cart-driver of Khalikot. He earned his 
livelihood by taking passengers from the station to the town in his 
cart. But the motor-vehicle of Mr. Singh shattered his peace and 
happine.ss as his cart became useless. He starved and ultimately 
faced his end. People remembered him and talked of him after his 
death with love and sympathy. The industrial civilisation is 
responsible for the destruction of the values of the agrarian society. 
Machines pose a great challenge to the financial stability of the 
poor working class people. Maguni represents the common 
labourers and the proletariats on whose tomb the capitalist system 
builds its castles. 

The story-anthology ‘Nila mastarani’ is of a different nature. 
The stories here were written between 1955 and 1958. The rural 



Short SU'ries 


25 


life is dominated by the superfluous city-culture resulting in the 
loss of a valuable past and a confused realisation of the broken 
present. ‘Nial mastarani’ depicts such social values in a 
comprehensive way, the meeting points of both city and rustic 
rural life. There is conflict as well as reconciliation in this union 
and a final moral attitude towards life. 

The picture of Harisharan in the story “Unmochana’ is 
suggestive of the miseries of millions of people — starving, 
suffering, crying. A minister went to an area to inaugurate his 
statue built by Harisharan, but returned without inaugurating it as 
the statue did not have the upper part of the body. Only the legs 
and the waist were built which seemed an insult to the minister. 
As the poor people cannot take their hands to their mouths, the 
political leaders do not have the right to have their head, chest 
and hands. They are thoughtless, cruel and useless. This 
explanation of Harisharan which pleased the gathering mass was 
a challenge to the politicians and leaders in power. 

The story ‘Jal tanka’ (Counterfeit notes) explaiirs the deceitful 
behaviour of a leader in Khadi dress, w'ho gave cotmterfeit notes 
of six rupees to the mother of Baraju while purchasing fish fixim 
her. While she went to bring medicine from the doctor for Baraju, 
the doctor refused to take those notes, and Baraju died. The 
barbarous and inhuman behaviour of the powerful leaders are 
satirised in this story. The reader is overwhelmed by the maximum 
effect of minimummaterials like the few words of Barbu’s mother. 

NilaMastarani in the story ‘Nilamastarani’ is a representative 
of the fallen women. Nila, the daughter of a Brahmin, was married 
to Madan, a washerman. Their love was not so much physical as 
ideal. The inter-caste marriage is not the crux of the matter. It is 
the human affection and the ties of heavenly love between man 
and woman that counts. 

The society in not destroyed by the marriage of the sily Harihar. 
a barber to Saudamini, the daughter of a Brahmin in the story 
‘Dhurtta pandita’. In the story ‘Gotie chimacha’ (A spoon), the 
writer has narrated that a cup of tea requires ten spoonfuls of 



26 


Godabarish Mohpalni 


sugar, whereas it was quite sweet with half a spoon of sugar some 
years ago. The spoon has been debased and worn out which was 
brought by the tea-seller to give medicine to his wife, now dead. 

‘Swayam sebika’ (Lady volunteer) is a stoiy describing the 
disintegration of home life in a satirical manner. The leaders of 
pre-independent period have obtained positions of power and 
wealth, whereas the staunch innocent followers for whose sacrifice 
the Independence became really possible, are now decaying under 
the pangs of poverty and starvation. 

Mohapatra availed the chances of mixing with varieties of 
people, enjoying several scenes, and hearing many things ftoni 
many people which helped him a lot in writing lively, natural and 
impressive short stories. 

The various-changes and developments of the country did not 
afect Orissa as much as it should. In the book ‘ Sruti sanchayana’ 
tire writertries to hint at the lifelessness and dullness of the Oriyas 
which make them ignorant and undeveloped. The real life of Orissa 
lies in the rural areas. The struggle of men to live like men is the 
main point in Mohapatra’s storie.s. They take into account the 
dualistic experiences of the people who are mere actors and 
actresses on the stage of this world. Their anxieties, restlessness, 
hypocrisy, corruption, and unjust activities are being treated in 
such a manner that they evoke laughter as well as satirical remarks. 
So the stories guide the readers to pursue the right track. 

Hari Suara, a true Congress man, who took active role in the 
freedom struggle and invited the humiliating life of a prisoner 
many times, is now a non-entity. He shouts against dictatorship 
and aristocracy only to make himself a butt of ridicule because 
the kings, dictators and aristocrats have become the powerful 
members of political parties. He removes the Gandhi cap from 
his head when he finds that the despotic, selfish and arrogant 
persons are using it to further their own gains. 

‘Mim dine mantri thill’ is a story which shows the restlessness 
and sleeplessness of a minister as he looks at the eloquent garlands 
offered to him in public meetings and tries to realise the 



Short Stories 


27 


responsibilities of a minister in a democratic system of 
administration. 

The story captioned ‘Hastantara* (Changing hands) deals with 
the feudalistic system that seems to be present as yet though the 
British rulers have left the throne of India. Only the administration 
was handed over by the foreign people to their Indian counterpart 
without any change in outlook and system. 

The story ‘Ghana darajirajami’ (The land of the tailor Ghana) 
indicates the foolish and nonsensical administration of the 
Government. Ghana declares himself landless to avoid land 
revenue, by selling his land and purchasing a sewing machine 
instead. 

‘Sidha salakhe Bhubaneswar’ is a story which describes the 
pathetic life of Ganapati Bishoyi, a reputed farmer. He does not 
get the help of his two sons, established as government officers in 
Agriculture Department, and dies in his native village. This story 
indirectly satirises the behaviour of the educated sons towards 
their aged father. 

The story ‘Jabanika patana’ relates the tragic end of an old 
woman who dies of starvation when Orissa was declared a separate 
state. The writer ironically terms Orissa as a ‘surplus state’. 

‘Chora kie’ is an interesting story in which a tribal named 
Sukura living in the forest is being debarred from collecting 
materials for his food, cloth and shelter from the forest and 
consequently is sent to jail as he challenges the forest officers. He 
says to another prisoner in the jail that various items are taken 
from the forest for the marriage of the consen'ator’s daughter 
which puts him in a conflict — whether he is a tiiief or the forest 
officer. The forest department in particular and the administration 
in general are criticised in this story. 

The story 'Secretariat chori’ (Theft in the Secretariat) talks of 
the mal-administration in the state which encourages theft and 
misappropriation of funds. ‘Mobile court’ is also an example of 
the blind and arbitrary rule of the Government. 

The .subconscious minds of male and female characters are 



28 


Godabarish Mohpatra. 


overtly displayed in his stories like ‘Ranka tu jagnare’ 
‘Chandramani babukka sansara’, ‘Gotie gala’, ‘Magarasmruti’, 
‘Jada kurupm prema’, ‘Duithara basna bandi’, ‘Akhira pakhe’, 
etc. Different problems of life and their impact on human behaviour 
are veiy accurately presented by the writer in his stories by going 
deep into the psyche of his characters. 

Mohapatra tried countinuously to free man from his 
surrounding and to lead a life of happiness and bliss. Man can 
live like a human being if he develops a sense of responsibility 
and duty for his family in the beginning, and ultimately thinks of 
the natioiL Thus he can have the pleasure and satisfaction to have 
a fruitful, peaceful and resourceful life from the daily incidents. 
Mohapatra has sweetened the staric truth with sugar coating to 
make it palatable and enjoyable. 

His characters stand for the common mankind. There are many 
from Nila Mastarani to Bana Panda who often suffer the pangs of 
painful existence. 

The impressions of the writer about the villages and cities, the 
educated and uneducated, rich and poor, bureaucrats and 
proletariats are so convincing because of his accurate observation 
and flawless understanding. 

Mohapatra’s social consciousness is immensely captivating and 
overpowering in his stories. He makes us conscious of our own 
identities and positions in the society and hopes that there may be 
reforms in the socio-cultural and political outlook of the people. 


G 



Novels 


Fakirmohan Senapati had deeply studied the minds and emotions 
of his characters along with many loopholes and taboos in the 
social structure. But Godabarish Mohapatra laid more emphasis 
on the socio-cultural pressures which determine the characteristic 
features of individual situations, and make a man happy or 
unhappy. He attempted to pinpoint the dark sides of the the society 
for necessary reformation by making people simultaneously 
conscious and proud of their rich past His sympathy was for those 
individuals who more often than not became iiuiocent victims of 
the surrounding factors. 

His Rajadrohi (1925) and Bandiram^d (1935) are historical 
novels as far as the themes are concerned. His social novels are 
Premapathe (1932) and Fidivha (1938). The novel Vira Yubaka 
(1936) blends social issues in a crime tale. He also wrote a novel 
entitled Raktapdta in imitation of Vendetta of Marie Corellie, 
English novelist. 

The novel Rajadrohi gives the picture of Orissa in her 
dwindling stage in a dark age. In the regime of Jadu in Bhoi 
dynasty, the foreign merchants were creating disturbances in the 
coastal area and plundering the people. They purchased boys as 
slaves. Such an incident was the kidnapping of the son of 
Duijayaman, the banished king of Kuhudigarh, by the foreign 
merchants. While diey took that boy in a ship, the waves of Chilika 
became uproarious and violent a.s a challenge to their sins. 
Con.sequently, they left the boy as a distorted figure on the shore. 
That boy overcame various hurdles in the dark night, and came 
over to the hermitage of Bhagat Das. He brought along w ith him 
a small girl whom he found leaning on her mother’s dead body in 
the burial ground, Bhagat Das was quite surprised as well as happy 
to find these two. He formed a dance party with them along with 
a tiger, Bhipia. Balaram became twenty-five, and Malli sixteen 
but blind. The blind Malli danced behind Balaram who could 



30 


Godabarish Mohpatra 


amase the audience by the exhibition of his distorted face and 
laughter-provoking gestures. Later on, the people of the kingdom 
came to take Balatam in order to coronate him as the King of 
Kuhudigarh. 

The history of Orissa says that at that time the palaces of Orissa 
were full of rebellious and revolutionary spirit owing to the 
oppressive behaviour of some Muslims. The peace of the state 
was shattered by rampant robbery and atrocities on the innocent 
people. The priests in the temple of Lord Jagannath kept the god 
hidden, being afraid of the Muslims. In 1622, Narashing Deb 
occupied the throne of Khurda and was successfully counteracting 
the invasions of Mughal Subedars. Mohapatra wrote his novel 
Rajadrohi taking this topic as his basis. The king of Kuhudigarh 
was a faithful and courageous subordinate ofNarasingh Deb. The 
other subordiante kings treacherously proved Durjayman to be a 
traitor before Narasingh Deb and unfortunately Narasingh Deb 
wrongly banished him from his kingdom. Duijayaman bore this 
insult silently and indignantly too, and took shelter in the forest 
of GhumtLsara. At that time his only son was kidnapped by the 
British pirates. In this novel, imagination took precedence over 
the historical facts. Anyway, this novel reveals the author’s sincere 
love and pride for the past heritage of Orissa. 

In the novel Bandiramaya the novelist portrayed the picture 
of Marahatta times. Fakirmohan described this period in his novel 
Lachuma in a very charming and detailed manner. Bandiramaya 
does not have much of historical authenticity. It is only the 
background of the novel in which the love of motherland is being 
presented in the youthful and romantic lives of men and women 
in an interesting way. Siyan Satrusal remained victor on sc\'eral 
occasions against the Marhatta rulers. He was old but active in 
the cornfield. His son Abhimanyu was a heroic man. and his 
daughter Phula, was as soft and as beautiful as a delicate flower. 

The courageous youth Abhimanyu left the cornfield and rushed 
to the battlefield against Marhatta invasion. The old and cold heart 
of SatnLsal became violently agitated. The tender-hearted Phula 



Novels 


31 


bade farewell to her brother in the traditional fashion with hatred 
and vengeance in her mind towards the Maihattas. A large prison 
cell was built in Binipadia to imprison the Marhatta prisoners 
under the supervision of Satnisal. Phula objected to this 
arrangement because the enemies should not be hosted like this 
yet. Siyan Satrusal employed his daughter to supply milk to the 
prisoners in the prison. Phula did this job but did not want to see 
the faces of the prisoners out of hatred. 

The news of Abhimanyu’s death in the battlefield reached Siyan 
Satnisal to make him terribly shocked and sad. He fell ill. Phula 
got the news from some new prisoners who gave her a pendant of 
a dying soldier, who was none but her brother. From that day 
onwards Phula ’s heart changed and she showed sympathy to the 
prisoners. The greater her ailmg father developed hatred against 
the Marhattas, the more she advanced on the way of love and 
affection towards them. 

A prisoner named Devanath had already occupied the heart of 
Phula, Both of them engaged themselves in sweet and soothing 
conversation, Around that time the prisoners were to be released 
as a result of treaty between the Gajapati of Orissa and the Marhatta 
Subedar. Devanath went to take leave from Phula. The emotional 
talk between Phula and Devanath in a dark night in Satrusal’s 
residence shocked the father of Phula. Satrusal pounced like a 
lion on them and ordered Phula to leave his house. Both the young 
lovers left the house immediately. 

But where would drey go? If Satrusal could not accept Devanath 
as the son-in-law then would the parents of Devanath allow Phula 
to be their daughter-in-law? They determined to dedicate their 
love, attachment and endless emotional tie at the altar of nationlism 
to keep the honour of their motherlands. They jumped into the 
deep and deadly waves of Mahanadi to prove that personal 
relationship loses its identity in front of the nation. The historic 
novels of Godabarish show his love for the past history though he 
did not hesitate to portray both the bright and dark sides as well. 

In Premapathe and Vidroha the writer dealt with social plots. 



32 


Godabarish. Molipatra 


The social history of Orissa in the past forty years is being 
presented in these novels. The spread of western education made 
the educated youth mistakenly radical. They ignore the tradition 
and conventions of the society. A heart touching picture of that 
tendency is being narrated in the novel Premapathe. Marriage is 
a holy and divine ritual which was unfortunately polluted by the 
whimsical choice of brides and bridegrooms by their counterparts 
without any advice from the parents. 

School boy Haricharan once met an innocent rural girl Kanaka. 
The writer made the point clear that this story was mostly real. 
Kanaka started dreaming golden dreams about her life with 
Karicharan. Haricharan received college education and led a city- 
life. Gradually he forgot Kanaka, the sweet and simple girl of a 
rustic village. His mind was eager to have relations with Chanchala, 
an educated lady of his class. As a result his proposed marriage 
with Kanaka was to be cancelled. His parents were offended for 
this undesirable act of their son. Haricharan got married to 
Chanchala. But Kanaka who was waiting for Haricharan felt 
socially humiliated. She raised her voice for woman’s liberty. Men 
are free and sometimes arbitrarily whimsical. But, on the other 
hand, women suffer from a life-long imprisonment because of 
unnecessary laws and restrictions on them. The complaints of 
Kanaka against the behaviour of educated youths in the first three 
decades of the twentieth century became more acute in the later 
years. Now women don’t suffer silently. They are prepared to 
confront the aggressive husbands with courage, confidence and 
rationality. 

Kanaka and Haricharan have been substituted by Gauri and 
Radhanath respectively in the novel Vidroha. Id Pt-emapaihe they 
were lover and beloved but in Vidwha, daughter and fether. The 
thought, mind and heart of Gauri resemble that of Kanaka. The 
incomplete works of Kanaka are consummated in lUroh. The 
inhumanity and cruelty of Haricharan are to be retributed in 
Radhanath. Radhanath could not be S7mpathetic and considerate 
to women like Haricharan. Gauri had to fight for her rights against 



Novels 


33 


society and ultimately succeeded in attaining her liberty. 

In the fourth decade of the present century Sri Sarada, a 
well-known lawyer, formulated laws in relation to child marriage 
and widow marriage, which were accepted by the British Rule. 
Vidroha is written on the background of Sri Sarada ’s laws. 
Radhanath offered her young daughter Gauri to an old widower 
But Gauri’s husband died after a couple of years, and she became 
a widow to suffer the humiliation and torture to an extreme 
measure. The mother of Gauri got a terrible shock at the miseries 
of her daughter and breathed her last But strangely enough, the 
old widower Radhanath married Rama, a young lady. In the family 
of Radhanath, two young lives, Garni and Rama, started revolting 
against such inhuman behaviour and customs prevalent in the 
society. Gauri accompanied Braj a, her neighbour, in his campaign 
against the social evils like rmtouchability, and Rama threw away 
her bangles and wiped out her vermilion from her forehead in 
front of the old Radhanath to present herself as a widow. Radhanath 
was vanquished, and Rama, Gauri and Braja won to establish 
themselves and showed ways of resistance towards a society full 
of social evils and stigmas which are based on foolishness and 
stupidity. 

In the art of presentation Godabarish followed the epistolary 
technique in Pramapathe. Haricharan wrote to his friend Ramesh 
and Kanaka to her dear sister, and the plot was expanded through 
letters. 

Mohapatra’s characterisation reveals the fact that the writer 
was much motivated towards youthful activities and tried to 
establish the prominence of youth in the various affairs in this 
world. The courage, dynamism, heroism, sacrifice, and 
broadmindedness of young people are glorified in his novels. But 
he never allowed the youngsters to be indisciplined and morally 
crooked in the name of freedom and liberty. All of them tried to 
make their society solid and united. In amorous activities too, his 
characters did not lose restraint and decency. The writer describes 
such incidents with suggestive seriousness. The writer has 



34 Godabarish Mohpatra 

described the widowhood of young Gauri in a very touching way 
like this : 

Standing near the jasmine plant and caressing her body, 
she thinks it has withered. All my ornaments withered 
away like this jasmine. Flowers wither away when it is 
time for that but my ornaments? Oh! How do people 
stretch hands — they take away the ornaments one after 
another. Are their minds constituted of stones? Is there 
none in their house to wear ornaments? Is there none in 
their family to smile or to let others smile? Now I am 
withered like this jasmine flower. But I am not able to die 
smiling like this. Oh! the flower smiles with joy. As if it 
says — H am going; smile and amuse. * Like this will this 
Gauri smile again? Will she again come smiling? Is there 
any chance of her smiling in this world? For whom she 
would smile? or where she would go smiling? She has all 
nights, where is day in her life? 

In all his writings the writer has tried to make man conscious 
of human values. The undesirable and harmful elements inhuman 
nature are being pointed out so as to rectify them. The personal 
life of individuals are being prepared for enriching the social and 
the national life. 

His novels are never over descriptive. His pen is quite restrained 
and disciplined to put the right word in the right place and right 
context A common style in his novels is his suggestive nature, 
Mo^^atra had an extraordinary kind of taste. In the modem Oriya 
literature, Godabarish appears to be a man of rare aesthetic 
sensibility. 



Satires 


The artistic sensibility of Godabarish Moh^tra was enriched by 
the elements of humour and satire. He has provided an ample 
chance for the readers to laugh and be amused. This peculiar 
humorous attitude of mind is found in all his writings, His attitude 
towards life and the world is clear from his following remark; 
‘Many strange events in relation to social and political problems 
on the way of life have come into my vision. Some of them arc 
humorous, some are tragic, and some other gloomy due to 
degradation in the social and national character. I look into the 
creation of delight or humour regarding society and politics in a 
different way because of my experiences’ (Preface to 
Kanta o Phula). His attitude is comprehensive, sympathetic and 
self-conscious. 

His poetic self was tortured to notice the discrepancy between 
manners and morals, tradition and newness, global development 
and provincial degradation as well as the social injustice existing 
in the society. His humour is a voice of rebehion. Dr. M. Mansingh 
aptly said : ‘Mohapatra has fulfilled a contemporary need — the 
need of exposing the corrupt, the hypocrite and the enemies of 
the law in a scathingly sarcastic maimer that none else could 
even partly do as successfully as he has done’ ( Indian Literature, 
Ed. byNagendra, p 517). 

In the writings of Godabarish, we find two types of humour, 
i.e. pure humour and satire. In the expression of pure humour the 
literary self is kind, generous and merciful. He has not despised 
and neglected the common man. As the life of a common man is 
incomplete, it is sure to be imperfect and erroneous. Living a life 
implies the allowance of a number of follies and vices. Those 
follies and frivolities are to be tolerantly dealt with, not to be 
vindictively scorned. 

The mannerism of the charactere, the laughable but permissible 
follies in one’s behavioui; and oddity in one’s gesticulations create 



36 


God^barish Mohpatra 


pure laughter. The daily life of Janardan, the protagonist of 
‘Khadada hawking’ is really laughter-provoking. Janardan roams 
from village to village, door to door, in order to sing the feme and 
glory of Khadada, the coarse cotton. His eloquence multiplies 
when people gather around him to hear his speech. He feels proud 
and elevated to the extent that he stands on his cotton package, 
about a foot feller than his own body and addresses the gathering 
as ‘Dear brothers’. 

Janardan does not sell a particular piece of cloth with border 
because he has kept it for someone he loves. He wants to satisfy 
his wife who has been neglected too much for a long period being 
busy in national service. He would present it to her in the special 
occasion of Kumara pumima. 

Kumara pumima would be observe the following day. The 
people in the village Noda did not purchase anything but only 
bargained. He left with a quickpace for the railway station. Ridges, 
paddyfields and the weight of the package did not trouble him. 
He thought of his wife. He could hear her voice and see her smiling 
face. He imagined his wife wearing the new sari and entering a 
room. Suddenly he became conscious and found himself standing 
under a tree. Then he started running to catch the train. But the 
train had left the station. He missed it He took a seat in the platform 
and his imagination carried him to his small cottage where he 
found a sweet sixteen year giri wearing the new sari with vermilion 
on the forehead, and smile on the lips. This romantic and fanciful 
mind arouse laughter and humour at the time of reading it. 

‘Byakarana prathama’ is a humorous stoiy in which the main 
character Banambara has exhibited a very peculiar and ridiculous 
behaviour in his father-in-law’s house for which he is insulted on 
several occasions. 

Jatadhar Babu is the hero of the story ‘Manisharu chheli’. A 
poet he later joined Independence movement and went to jail. 
When released, he devoted himself in the service of die nation. 
But he had no residence. Ultimately, he found a quarters in the 
town where a goat also stayed. The rent was reduced from five 



Satires 


37 


rupees to three rupees and fifty paise per month. Jatadhar Babu 
h^pily stayed there in spite of the frequent bleating of the goat. 
He started to compose a love poem with fine thoughts, sweet 
feelings and poetic sentiments. When he heard the goat bleating 
‘mein, mein, mein’ he was disgusted for the disturbance. After a 
while, he again sat to write but this time the goat started bleating 
to his utmost irritation. He ceased writing being helpless. At night, 
he dreamed of that monotonous sound. He could not sleep 
peacefully. He decided to leave the house and packed his 
belongings. In the morning the owner came and asked him whether 
he was irritated by Budhi, the goat. Jatadhar Babu said that he 
was not at all disturbed by the goat While eating the tiffin, 
Jatadhar Babu said that he was a philosopher-poet who could easily 
compose poems in qrite of so many disturbances. The bleating of 
the goat was insignificant. He then started writing poems while 
the goat started bleating. Gradually it was found that unless the 
goat bleated, he could not write poems. As the goat died, Jatadhar 
Babu failed to write poems. The owner told Jatadhar Babu to bleat 
‘mein, mein, mein’ so as to make his son calm and ha^ipy, who 
was weeping for the death of the goat Jatadhar Babu did the 
same in a beautiful manner. Then the owner asked him to stay 
there without paying rent and getting three rupees from him to 
bleat when the child would cry. From that day onwards Jatadhar 
Babu had been writing poems and bleating like the goat but 
nothing had been published. This is an interesting and amusing 
story which is quite humorous and satirical too. 

The absurd behaviour and psychology of Ramahari Babu’s wife 
in the story ‘Mobile court' is quite interesting. She was happy to 
listen to the call of neighbours who addressed her husband as 
‘Babu’ though he was a clerk. That ‘Babu’ term was also applied 
to the owner of their hoase who was a high government official. 
So, she innocently thought that her husband was also, like the 
owner of the house, a man of equal prestige and status. 

Bhagi Patra of the story ‘Patranka smaranashakti’ is a humorous 
character. He has lived for forty years in spite of the diseases like 



38 


Godabarish Mohpatra 


waist-pain, colic-pain, dyspepsia, indigestion, constipation, 
riieumatism etc. constantly attacking him. He narrates the history 
of each of the diseases in a fascinating manner to arouse pity and 
pathos. He uproots radish to get rid of waist-pain and at the same 
time takes medicine for indigestion. So he has to undergo severe 
harassment Mr. Patra forgets the instruction of his wife who is 
away in a fair. The medicines are kept near at hand but he doesn’t 
know which one is meant for what. His poor memory makes him 
confused. Perhaps the name of the medicine starts with the alphabet 
‘Ka’. He is helped very humorously by another character to 
remember the name like ‘Kadali’, ‘Kantha’, ‘Kaupina’, 
‘Kamandalu’, ‘Kankada’ etc. Then there is a knock on the door. 
The village physician Kapila comes in. Mr. Patra remembers that 
his wife has told him to send for Kapila physician, the name starting 
with ‘Ka’, not the name of the medicine. 

In the story ‘Bhagidasanka sadhi’, Bhagidas wears a wrapper 
made up of the borders of some saris once worn by his dead wife. 
He takes care of that cloth out of love and sincere feeling. People 
ask him about the reason for using this peculiar cloth. He says 
that it not only suits the body but also the mind. He describes the 
history of the colourful borders one after another before a character 
who quite interestingly thinks of his own choice of saris for his 
wife. He is not prepared to listen to the pathetic tales of the narrator. 
Mohapatra intends to arouse love and sympathy for the people at 
whom we laugh. 

In the story ‘Duhswapna’ published mNiankhimia (No, 9 July 
1963) Godabarish Mohapatra delineates the character of Srimati 
Anunka Devi, who is the wife of a high official. She represents 
the aspiration of women to the extent that she appeals to God to 
make men feel the labour pain. Such a craze for liberty and equal 
right with male counterparts is ridiculous and laughable. 

Now the manliness of men is reduced to nothing. They are the 
objects of ridicule before women because of their weaknesses. 
Godabarish has written in his belles-lettres ‘Nari Jagarana’ that 
all the vehicles, coaches, rickshaws are full of women. Women 



Satires 


39 


swarm in markets and hotels and offices. Two old women laugh 
at him because he is found in the midst of ladies. They think that 
men should take care of children in the houses. The writer made 
Sadasiva Babu cover his head with a veil. Sadasiva Babu is also 
too much afraid of his wife. This humorous writing satirically 
points out the depravity and dependency of the male sex in social 
life. Mohapatra was not against women’s liberty, he was against 
the excess arrogance and dominance of women in the name of 
freedom. 

The narrative skill of Mohapatra can be compared to that of 
Jonathan Swift. But his satire is invariably mixed with humour 
and good entertaiiunent. Two examples may be cited ; 

a. All knew in the village that Kelei Nana was very greedy. He 
knew how to earn but was very particular about spending. He 
never acknowledged himself to be covetous. Once he went to 
the market with his 12 year old grandson to purchase brinjals. 
The man who was selling brinjals asked Kelei to pay the anear. 
Kelei told him not to be hasty. He would repay all the amount 
next week. The grandson requested Kelei to pay the amount 
because the man w-as in a quite pitiable and pathetic state. Kelei 
told his grandson that the man was impatient to take money 
from him because he had taken some brinjals at the marriage 
of his grandmother and notyetpaid the cost. Then the grandson 
said that really that man was unnecessarily hurried and 
impatient. 

b. Once a woman went to a neighbour’s house for gossiping. The 
neighbour told her that she and her husband had planted a lemon 
tree that day as a memory of their compromise after a .stiff fight 
between them. The other lady said if one lemon tree after a 
single conflict would have been planted by them, then their 
courtyard might have been full of lemon trees. 

Godabarish Mohapatra is not always serious in describing 

humorous incidents. Often he Is light and carnal in expre.ssing it. 
For example, in his poem 'Danta 0 prema' (Teeth and love), 
Chintamani Babu could not smile at his beloved because he had 



<40 


Godabarish. Mohpatia 


lost all his teeth. He only looked at her. He became worried and 
then purchased the teeth-ridges from a shop' and got them fixed. 
He was happy to smile and laugh with Behela. Once Chintamani 
Babu and Behela were travelling in a rickshaw in the evening. 
The rickshaw jerked in an uneven road and the false teeth fell 
down. Behela felt ashamed to look at the ridiculous condition of 
Chintamani Babu. 

In the poem ‘Handisalara viplaba’, the poetpresents the change 
of a conservative lady’s attitude towards family life. She goes to 
cinema with the friend of her husband instructing her husband to 
take care of their child in the house. She doesn’t use veil nor she 
is hesitant to go alone keeping her husband in the house. In his 
poems like ‘Formula’, ‘Bekar samasya’, ‘Bidaya bein’, ‘Chithira 
uttaia’, etc., he has created pure, meaningful and hearty laughter. 

The fimdamental concept of humour includes an attitude of 
detachment. To focus on the foolishness, selfishness, and plight 
of men in a sensible manner is the real strength of humour. To 
enjoy this sort of humour, the reader is also required to have the 
specific taste. A man without the sense of humour can never enjoy 
such writings. Sense of proportion is also necessary to make the 
humour more touching and appealing. 

Humour comes from pathetic and tragic sentiments too. They 
are not mutually exclusive, rather complementary. In ‘Khadada 
baking’, ‘Patranka smarana shakti’, ‘Mani shaura chheli’, ‘Mun 
dinemantri thili’, ‘Bhagi dasanka shadhi’, etc., we find humour 
coming from pathos and tragic feelings. In the works of Charles 
Dickens, humour and pathos intermingle and enrich the sentiments 
of humour. Swinburne rightly observes about Dickens that he is a 
‘master in the cotenninous provinces of laughter and tears’. The 
.same remark i.s applicable to Godabari.sh Mohapatra. .A strange 
but sweet relationship befrveen laughter and tear in the writings 
of Godabari.sh makes him a unique writer. In many cases, the 
starting is humorous but the end is tragic. 

Yet Mohapafra's creative power is more prominent in the 
satirical and witty presentation than in his humour. Humour 



Satires 


41 


includes fiin, jest, buffoonery, ridicule, wit, irony, satire etc. Satire 
is explicit but irony is implict Satire turns to sarcasm when 
expressed in a witty marmer. Molit^atra based his wit, satire and 
irony on those persons who were morally degraded and 
intellectually mean. The difference between manners and morals 
made him to be satirical in his presentation. 

Godabarish was a unique satirist in Oriya literature but he was 
not the creator, inventor or father of satire. Radhanath, Fakirmohan, 
Laxmikanta and Gopal Praharaj were successful satirists prior to 
him. 

In his satire Godabarish was beyond any personal animosity 
and individual prejudices. Social and national spirit became more 
important in his writings. He had never become mean and vulgar. 

The ridiculed persons as well as the related factors may not be 
there after about a hundred years but the readers would sincerely 
and gladly enjoy the satirical writings of Godabarish because of 
the lofty style and excellent thought The poetic heart was quite 
vast and generous and its powerful inspiration could be discovered 
in his literary creations. One may not agree with his views but 
would certainly agree that he was a genius in satire and a sincere 
supporter of truth and justice. The tinreless splendours of the satires 
composed by Godabarish Mohapatra would be receiving acclaims 
of the readers and critics for ages to come. 

Truth was the pivot of all his attractions. He was never hesi tant 
to speak the truth. The spark of fire can never remain hidden for 
ever. Truth must come out today or tomorrow; that was what he 
believed. He was a moralist who pointed out the immorality, 
stupidity, follies, unnecessary luxuries, falsehood and vices in the 
manners of persons who occupied positions of power. 

We may remember what Pope said when asked about his attack 
Ask you what provacation I have had ? 

The strong antipathy of Good to Bad. 

The remark Ls rightly applicable to Godabarish as a satirist 

Some aspects of his method in writing satires can be 
sununarised as follows ; 



42 


Godabarish MohpaLra 


SL Like Swift, Godabarish has used animal metaphors to make his 
satire and humour artisticaily decent in the writings like ‘Pecha 
badudi upakhyana’, ‘Gadhia chhelichhua katha’ (Tale of wolf 
and kid), ‘Musharu hagha (From rat to a tiger), etc, 

b. He has satirised the contemporary events through illustrations 
of folk songs and folk tales. 

c. He mocked at the contemporary politics and social life by means 
of proverbs used in the society. 

d. Legends and myths have been die means of his satire also. While 
describing the critical moments and complicated situations in 
prevalent politics, he very often referred to mythological figures 
and episodes to make it appealing and interesting so as to be 
grasped by common people. 

e. Scolding somebody through deceitful praise is an important 
aspect of his satire. Equivocal utterances make the satire funny 
and amusing. Godabarish was somewhat influenced by 
Jadumani Mohapatra, a 19th century Oriya poet, in this respect, 

f. Through pun and repartee, Godabarish tried to eulogise also. 
Like Jonathan Swift, of whom a critic said ‘Eulogy was to be 
his talent, but it would be best expressed ironically, through 
mock insults’ (Irven Ehrenpreis), 

g. The vocabulary of Godabarish was extra-ordinarily rich. Word- 
play or suitable arrangement of linguistic terms have made his 
satire artistic. Ambiguous words are also used to satire the 
persons of human nature. 

h. He created humour and satire through connotation and word- 
play. Familiar words are used with new meanings. For instance 
■chila’ (kite), ‘pecha' (owl), 'ajagara' (python), ‘saguna’ 
(vultures), ‘balada" (bullock), etc., have been denoted with new 
implication.s. Strange meanings of the words like ‘bara’ 
(husband), ‘kara’ (tax), ‘jhada’ (stomi), ‘ota’ (camel), 'patha' 
(roadway), ‘oshada' (medicine), ‘mada’ (wine), ‘dara' (rate), 
etc,, are given to satirised people. 

i. The common writing style in Niankhunta can be regarded as 
the style of exemplification. All the incidents of society and 



Sal ires 


politics are being narrated satirically by exemplification from 
the folk tales, tales from foriegn land, Arabian stories, 
Panchatantra, mythology, Aesop s Fables etc. He himself also 
invented some stories to set as examples to make the political 
or social events more charming and enjoyable. His ' Sata kahiba 
na michha kahiba’ (Speak the truth or tell the lies) is an example 
where a person refuses to write that two plus two is equal to 
four. He may speak that as others believed it to be but cannot 
write like that to be free from politics. The examples like ‘Maga 
mahakud’, ‘Upakhyana’, "Banara gai kina’, ‘Pana Narasingh’ 
are given to popularise some of the contemporary incidents. 

j. His satires touch all sorts of people in different walks of life, 
starting from the members of the Gram Panchayat, bus driver, 
constable, clerk, magistrate, lawyer, doctor, judge, professor, 
editor, news reporter, secretary to deputy minister, minister and 
governor etc. All have been the targets of his bitter criticism. 

k. Parody is one of his supreme weapons to laugh at the existing 
social and political happenings. He composed the largest 
number of parody in Oriya literature. In parody of 
Madhusudan’-s ‘NirvasitaraVilapa’, he has said that it is better 
to live in the prison where pure mustard oil is available. Foolish 
people live in the society to use impure and adulterated oil. 
Radhanath’.s Megluidiita, Gopal Krisna’s Radlia cmd KrLna, 
Bhaktacharan's Manahodh Chautisa. Bhanja’s Bihhusana 
PuspeJakaiiliJana and some folk songs have been parodied by 
Godabarish. The appearance of Hare Krisna Mahtab and 
Radhanath Rath, in the election is being parodied b\ him as: 

Aprakurta Premamurti Java Radha Hari 
.Abyakta lilaku byakata kala abatari 
This is a parody of Abhimanyu's first stanza of his groat kavya 
Bidagdha Chiniamani. He also parodiedAVdd/;gm/n' of Radhanath 
while describing the Kedars and Gauris, the romantic young boys 
and girls roaming in the the capital. The social and political inertia, 
injustice and corruption arc being ponrayed by Godabarish in his 
parodies. That’s why his parodies are serious in tone and piercing 



Godabarish Mohpatra 


in their appeal. 

He composed a number of belles-lettres to use them as the 
instruments ofsatiie. Belles-lettres are primarily lightand elegant, 
imaginative and humorous essays. The writer establishes 
emotional attachment with the readers through this sort of writing. 
The readers come in contact with a specific world of sentiments 
in the belles-lettres of Godabarish Mohapatra, such as ‘Tuma 
pocket lahasy a’ (The mystery ofyourpocket), ‘Moruswargajatia’, 
(My journey to Heaven), ‘Maribaku belanahin’ (No time to die), 
‘Purusa kahaku kahanti* (Who is termed as a man), Tume kebe 
apakhya kara’ (Do you ever wait?), ‘Rajanitika roga’ (Political 
desease) etc. 

To sum up, it may be said that Godabarish’s life and writing 
were one piece. What he professed he wrote about, and what he 
put down in writing was basically the values he believed in 
personal life. A fine soul, a fine writer, he was fundamentally 
moved by a desire how best to do good to the society and to people 
at large, and how to identify a writer as a sentient being. This he 
did in ample measure for which Oriya literature should be 
immensely grateful to him. 


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Eicerpts firom Godabarish’s Writings 






0 MY PEN! 


0 my pen, an eternal revolutionary you are 
Eternally silent, too. 

Friend of all life, in all ages 
though you cost a paise few. 

Though frail-bodied, you’ve shaken many stony hearts 
as also many granite-hard floors. 

But why are you a prisoner in Orissa today? 

Arouse this nearly dead nation, if only for once. 

You are my friend, too, a very faithful friend 
and through your sharp point 
countless dearest thoughts have I expressed 
enshrined in my troubled heart. 

Chengiz Khans and Hitlers come and go 
many Isms rage: 

civilisation bloom and fade in this world 
only in two days. 

But above all these, you reign supreme 
you are immortal in every age. 

Why are you so dull and inactive in Orissa today 
Why have you lost your edge ? 

You have captured in immortal words and verses 
the words of Buddha.. Shankar and Christ, 
and also on other occasions when gods trotted 
this earth in the guise of men. 

Never have you been a hainlmaid of pretence, 
never have you yielded to force physical. 

In one line you have discarded with vigour 
all exploitation, suppression and corruption. 


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You have cut ofFall bondages, given eyes 
to the blind and written immortal words. 
Your revolution is full of truth and peace 
and your lamp shines through countless ages. 



THE HALF-BURNT BIDI 


0 half-burnt bidi, today you lie 
under a roadside heap of garbage 
But yeaterday someone’s lips you kissed 
and you’d burnt your body as an offering. 

In some lonely fields where Kendu plants grow 
in languorous luxury, in far-off Bolangir 
a damsel had plucked you with her tender fingers, 

Could you tell us, 0 half-burnt neglected bidi : 
if the seller had shed tears, for the rates were low. 

O my poor, half-burnt bidi, dust-ridden you are now. 

The tobacco-leaves fondly grown in someone’s fields, 
and rotting in the tax imposed by the Excise Department 
finally took shelter in your lap, thinking they were landless. 
Who’s that poor urchin who tied you together in one string? 

You’re the leaf of a sad damsel, and a farmer’s wealth. 

But in the cottage industry manned by day-labourers 
Were you re-bom, and because of you, minister’s jobs 
rise and fall through the votes of people, though now 
burning for a while, you lie in the midst of filth. 

You are not the only half-burnt one, there are many, 
many like you, many leaders and ministers, who have burnt 
their selves in the flame of power, and now prostrate lie, 
like you, on the great road that this world is, and give out 
long sighs, and have taken to smoking you as a final refuge. 



TO PAPER 


Who is that prehistoric maiden, 0 Paper! who 
with the collyriuni of her dark eyes 
painted your body, calling back at mind 
the lovely face of her lover, 
with a long line of tears 
overflowing her cheeks? 

One day in a school, O dear Paper 
a boy scared of dry arithmetic 
while struggling for results, 
out of sheer hopelessness, rested 
his head on your bosom. 

Do you remember today the restless dreams 
that he used to have at times? 

Once an unmindful girl 

afar in the upper storey of her school 

pressed the pen between her lips. 

Her eyes were wide open, 

and unable to decide what to write 

she was muttering something to herself. 

But the sight of her simling friend on the mirror 
shocked her, and she held you close, 
very close to her breast. 

A man who can’t smile even once in his life, 
a man who doesn’t get a square meal a day 
holds you tight in his lap night and day. 

Even he has no time to think of his darling. 

A time was there when die tribe of clerks 
etched with the touch of their hands 
many black and red lines on your face. 

The poor man’s land is sold on your bosom. 



WOMAN 


When you raise your face and look at me 
the whole sky dawns within my mind, 
no horizons remain, 
and I find no image for iL 

When you hang your face down 

a huge unknown ship sails into the sea of my heart 

floating on water, and yet largely under it, 

and I find no image for it 

When you laugh like the cascading hill stream, 

when you sit quite without a word. 

When you are the goodess of primeval Vak 
I only know you are life itself. 

Pervading all space within, without, 
do you assume so many forms 
only for my sake? 


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THE DECENTRALISATION OF SARASWATI 


You had emerged, 0 Saraswati, in this great land, 
with book in hand, and attired in white, 

Lotuses adorned you, you were seated on a swan 
What a harmony rose from the depaths of your lyre 
The wise and the learned, all worshipped you 
and you gave them blessings, sometimes with four hands, 
Sometimes in courts, sometimes in huts, 

Life blossomed wherever your music rose. 

But now decentralised you stand, 0 the Eternal one 
into Song-Dance-Arts Academies. 

Now will you keep your lyre in one room, and go to the other 
This room literature, and that dance; 

Decentralisation is now an Administrative rule 
So now leave the centre, and move to the circumference 
Prose now gives the same delight as poehy, 

I therefore fail to get a glimpse of you. 



Lots of differences. Brother, are there between you and us. 
For one thing, there’s none like us in your midst 
You still live in that old-fashioned house of yours 
while we live in the capital city of Cuttack. 

The sole of your feet has never touched a slipper. 

But we always wear Flex shoes only. 

You always complain you get nothing. 

While at our door we are flooded 
by regular streams of ghee and oil. 

You say you never get any paddy to buy. 

But we get it on door-delivery, throughout night and day. 
You stay idle there, and get drotight and flood. 

But see, our cars have no rest, we move heaven and earth for 
you. 

You all have gone dumb, so to make you hear our words 
we have acquired loud-speakers, only for your sake. 



CONTROL 


A day has twenty-four hours, but my sonows are countless. 

Therefore, O God, advise me please 

which sorrow should get how many hours of my tears. 

My child is ill; and my wife with an anguished heart 
tells me — the barley bought from the market has only 
powdered maize; and then I hear the news 
that two lakhs of people have been killed by goondas 
in West Punjab. But what’s the remedy? 

While brooding on these, I am informed 
by the call-boy that the shop-keeper gave 
only a seer and half of rice for a rupee; with this 
how shall I manage to feed my family for a day? 

At this time, come ten people in a body asking for 
contributions to improve my village; my hand 
moves visibly from my waist to my pocket and from there 
to my bag; the volunteers can imagine the state 
of my finances, and in silence they leave. 

And from my back a voice is heard to inform me 
in the so-called milk sold by the milkman today 
three-fourths are water; then comes another voice 
from the front door. I guess it belongs to Sadhu Jena 
who shouts — I can’t supply grass any more 
if 1 am not paid four annas per bundle. 

As 1 debate in my mind for which should 1 Worry 
which is greater in this world, 1 can’t know 
volunteers or contributors, water or milk 
my cook informs we’ve no kerosene today; it sells 



for two rupees a bottle, and in the backyard 
a younger daughter-in-law is tortured by her mother-in-law 

In this age of controls, therefore, 0 Lord 
put some control on the sorrows and misfortunes 
that I have to face, and also specify for which sorrow 
I should hold a meeting, and for which I should pray alone; 
for which I should speak in the Assembly like a hero. 

In this age of post-war reconstruction, tell me 0 Lord, 
which sorrow deserves a minute, and which an hour or two. 



THE OWL 


When the dark menacing night descends 
on the path of life. 

Oh please tell me, 0 owl, the nocturnal voyager 
for whom do you send this call 
under the feet of the dense dark 
Or in the ancient hollow of the trunk? 

I really get startled on my way. 

For whom do you sing? O Owl! hooting what new songs, 

when the solitude of the lonesome roads and the fields 

of the quiet earth look on eternally 

on the innumerable stars from the blue sky 

and when in the violence of the storm the mind shrinks? 

When you fly past flinging out your claws, 
the sharp beak and the wide eyes, the mind 
is deeply shocked. 0 the day-blind, round-eyed one! 

Why you hide as a coward in the day 
and what your hunt in the dark 
are all unknown to us all. 

Wealth is kept in dark, you roam about in dark 

Now I understand why Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, 

chose you as her pet. For with you as her minion 

the people in dark seek her blessings in despair 

and have darkened the market 

with high rates for all commodities. 

Man now worships (he owl, and the world is full of owls. 

Everywhere is obseiv'ed the ceremony of darkness; 

the ‘dark visits’ are on; and everywhere 

your beak and look conjure up the spectral dance 

that feeds on travelling allowances from the treasury. 

Darkness everywhere encircle.s the Orissan land 

The call from kairangpur enquires : Where’s Nawarangpur? 



The south calls today to the iron contour of the North 
The wail of Chilka echoes 
against the far-off hills ofHirakud. 

It is only you, 0 Owl 

Who wanders from this border to the other. 

Many a dark visit has already maddened the nation. 
Your image has been spread all over the country. 

When would the day break ? 

And when would the darkness fade far away? 

I take you for a minister, and you’re now 
the ruler of the country. 

Are you bent iqjon leading it through the way of Death? 
The storm gathers from all sides. 

The thunder shakes the being of all. 

You are sitting hidden in the hollow of a tree. 

What songs do you sing 
O the day-blind, round-eyed one? 


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